The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on 4 March
1986, the following members being present:

                     MM.  C. A. NØRGAARD, President
                          G. SPERDUTI
                          J. A. FROWEIN
                          G. JÖRUNDSSON
                          S. TRECHSEL
                          B. KIERNAN
                          A. S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                          A. WEITZEL
                          J. C. SOYER
                          H. G. SCHERMERS
                          G. BATLINER
                          H. VANDENBERGHE
                      Mrs G. H. THUNE
                      Sir Basil HALL

                      Mr.  H. C. KRÜGER, Secretary to the Commission

Having regard to Art. 25 of the Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (art 25);

Having regard to the application introduced on 5 September 1985 by
U.A. and M.K. against Sweden and registered on 28 September 1985 under
file No. 11776/85;

Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the Rules of
Procedure of the Commission;

Having deliberated;

Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The facts of the case, as they appear from the submissions of the
applicants' representative, may be summarised as follows:

The applicants are a couple, Mr. A., born in 1955 and Mrs. K., born in
1956.  They are both resident at Norrköping. Mr. A. is a full-time
driver by profession.  Mrs.  K. is a housewife.  She stays at home and
takes care of the couple's two children born in August 1980 and
October 1981 respectively.  The applicants are represented before the
Commission by Mrs.  Mona Nilsson who is a teacher at Karlstad.

Previously the applicants received social welfare benefits in the form
of financial subsidies because Mr.  A.'s earnings had been
insufficient for the maintenance of the family.  On 20 February 1984
the Northern Social District Council (Norra sociala distriktsnämnden)
of Norrköping decided to reject an application from the applicants for
further financial subsidies.  As reasons it was indicated that the two
children had been given priority for placement at a day home care
centre but that the parents had declined to accept the offer,
referring to the fact that Mrs.  K. did not wish to apply for
employment.

The applicants appealed to the Regional Administrative Court
(länsrätten) of the County of Östergötland.  In a judgment of 19 April
1984 the Regional Administrative Court accepted the appeal and
referred the case back to the District Council for re-examination.
The Court stated as follows in its reasons:

"According to Section 6 of the Social Services Act
(socialtjänstlagen), the individual has the right to assistance from
the Social Council for his livelihood and for other aspects of his
living, if his needs cannot be secured in any other way. The District
Council has refused assistance referring to the fact that the family
would be able to solve its economical difficulties itself if Mrs.
K. took employment and the children were placed at the day home
which had been offered.  The need of the applicants could be satisfied
in this way.  According to Section 1 of the Social Services Act, the
social service of society should be based on respect for the
self-determination and integrity of the individual.  According to
Section 12 of the Social Services Act, the Social Council shall
endeavour to ensure that children and young persons grow up in good
and secure conditions.  The couple has apparently in this case made
the assessment that it is better for the children if Mrs.  K.
stays at home instead of leaving them in a day home while Mrs. K.
takes up employment.  Such an assessment can of course be discussed
but according to the opinion of the Regional Administrative Court it
ought to be respected on the condition that it is really based on
consideration for the children. Nothing appears however which would
suggest that it is not so based.  In such conditions it would not be
in line with the intentions of the Social Services Act to make such a
harsh judgment as the District Council has made.  The best interests
of the children must be given priority before the general principle
that the one who is not available for the labour market is not
entitled to public assistance.  This principle carries no weight in
such a context.  The Regional Administrative Court therefore finds
that the fact that Mrs.  K. has chosen to stay at home with the
children instead of taking up employment should not disqualify her for
receiving assistance according to Section 6 of the Social Services
Act."

The Northern Social District Council of Norrköping appealed to the
Administrative Court of Appeal (kammarrätten) of Jönköping, which in a
judgment of 3 July 1984 rejected the appeal.  In its judgment the
Administrative Court of Appeal stated inter alia as follows:

"There is no general right to be a housewife at the cost of the social
services.  It cannot however always be required that both parents in a
family with children should take up gainful employment.  The
individual circumstances in the particular case must be decisive, even
if, according to the general advice of the National Social Welfare
Board (socialstyrelsen), the main rule ought to be that the Social
Council can choose to give assistance in the form of taking care of
the children rather than giving it in the form of financial
assistance. - In this case the children are still so small that the
care of them and the home must be regarded as a full-time employment.
In view of this, and of the fact that the mother, as far as
investigations show, does not have any training or professional
experience which makes her attractive on the labour market, public
assistance to the family ought to be given in the form of financial
assistance for a further period."

The District Council lodged a further appeal with the Supreme
Administrative Court (regeringsrätten), which in a judgment of
15 March 1985 accepted the appeal and quashed the judgments of the
lower courts and confirmed the decision of the District Council.  The
judgment was adopted by a vote of three to two.  In its reasons the
Supreme Administrative Court stated as follows:

"U.A. and M.K. cohabit.  They have two children
born in August 1980 and October 1981.  Ulf A. has full
employment, while Monica K. stays at home and takes care of the
children.  According Section 6 of the Social Services Act the
individual is entitled to assistance for his livelihood and other
aspects of his living if his needs cannot be provided for in any other
way.  The assistance should ensure to the individual a reasonable
level of living. From the investigation in the case it appears that
the income of U.A. and M.K. is so low that the
family cannot thereby be ensured a reasonable standard of living.
Accordingly there is a right to assistance according to Section 6 of
the Social Services Act.

The Social Council has, as assistance, offered the family child
care places in order to make it possible for Monica K. to
apply for employment.  The family has however refused the offer
and instead asked for financial assistance in order to make it
possible for Monica K. to be at home and take care of the
children.  She has accordingly not reported herself as willing to
apply for employment.

From the preparatory works to the Social Services Act it appears
that a person who is able to work and who can be provided with
appropriate work, is only entitled to assistance according to
Section 6 of the Social Services Act temporarily and until such
time as he can take care of his maintenance himself (Government
Bill 1979/80: 1 Part A p. 526).  In the case law it has also been
established that an applicant for assistance, who without a valid
reason refuses to take up employment, can be refused assistance
according to Section 6 of the Act (cf. Yearbook of the Supreme
Administrative Court 1983 2:70 and the Supreme Administrative
Court's judgment of 28 December 1984, case no. 4243/83).
Furthermore, it is expressed in the preparatory works to the
legislation that the individual does not have an unconditional
right to receive a specific form of assistance.  When choosing
the measure of assistance, consideration must be given to the
alternative resources available within the municipality
(Government Bill 1979/80: 1 Part A p. 185).

It has not been shown in this case that Monica K. has had
any other reason for her failure to apply for employment than her
own wish to take care of the children or that the children, for
special reasons, are in need of her personal education and care.
In these circumstances, the Social Council must be considered to
have fulfilled its obligation to grant the family necessary
assistance under Section 6 of the Social Services Act by assigning
to the children, with priority, places at the day home care
centre."

The two dissenting judges rejected the appeal while basing themselves,
inter alia, on the following reasons:

"It is not in dispute that the family which is seeking assistance and
which consists of able adults and two children, aged four and three,
finds itself, as a result of the fact that only one of the parents has
gainful employment, in a situation with so limited economical
resources that the family can only attain a reasonable level of living
if it receives assistance from the public authorities.  Accordingly
the family is entitled to assistance under Section 6 of the Social
Services Act.

Two forms of assistance have been at issue in this case: On the one
hand, financial assistance which is being requested by Mrs.  K.
but which has been refused by the District Council, and on the other
hand, assistance in the form of providing the children with assistance
under the child care system of the municipality, whereby both parents
would be able to have gainful employment to the extent that such
opportunities present themselves.  The last-mentioned form of
assistance has been offered to the parents, but the parents, after
having tried a family care home for a certain initial period of time,
has then returned to taking care of the children themselves.

The offer of places in the day home care centre has been made in the
form of the offer of priority.  It appears therefore that the
municipality does not have a surplus of day home places.  The use of
this offer would accordingly mean that one or two other families, who
have expressed wishes about day home places, would have to stand back.

The District Council has, in support of its standpoint, stated
that the individual cannot have a right to economical assistance,
if he does not try, according to his own ability, to contribute
to his livelihood.  The person who can work is also obliged to
apply for employment.

As far as it appears from the case file the wish of the parents
is based on the fact that they themselves wish to take care of
the children, since they consider that the children need their
mother at home for some more time, when the children are small.
There is nothing to indicate that the mother would not be willing
to work.  The investigation in the case does not give any ground
for criticising the parents' ability to care for the needs of the
children in different aspects.

In view of what has just been said, the issue in the case will be
whether the Council can be relieved of its duty to give the
family economic assistance as a result of the parents having
rejected the offer of day home places and the consequent obstacle
to Mrs.  K. taking up gainful employment.  There is no
statutory duty or any other duty imposed on an individual to take
up gainful employment, but it is an obvious point of departure
that everyone should, according to his own ability, take
responsibility for his livelihood.  The decisive issue in the
case must therefore be whether the parents have any acceptable
reason for their standpoint that the children are an obstacle to
both parents taking up gainful employment.  If there is a valid
reason, the situation in which the family finds itself is a
factual condition which must be accepted when assessing the
family's right to assistance and the Council's corresponding
obligation to give such assistance.  On the other hand, if the
family has no valid reason for its standpoint, it must be
considered completely normal that the family, in the first place,
uses the opportunities to change its factual situation in order
to increase its economic resources by taking up gainful
employment also by efforts on the part of Mrs.  K. on the
labour market and that it takes advantage of the child care
offered by the public authorities.  Chapter 6 Section 1 of the
Parental Code (föräldrabalken) in its wording from 1 July 1983
provides that children have the right to care, security and good
education.  In the same chapter, Section 2, it is provided that
children are under the care of the parents.  Furthermore it is
said that the one who has the care of the child has the
responsibility for the child's personal circumstances and shall
see to it that the child's needs according to Section 1 are
satisfied.  The custodian, according to Section 11, has "a right
and an obligation to decide on questions regarding the child's
personal circumstances".  In Section 14 it is recalled that the
custodian has a right to receive support and help from the Social
Council according to the provisions of the Social Services Act.

In our opinion, the question of whether the parents in the
present case have a valid reason for their standpoint to decline
day care places in order to be able, instead, to take care of the
children must be judged against the background of the
far-reaching responsibility for the children's personal
circumstances which the Parental Code imposes on the custodian.
Furthermore, as the Regional Administrative Court has recalled in
its judgment, the public social service according to the express
provision of the first section of the Social Services Act should
be built on respect for the self-determination and the integrity
of the individuals.  From Chapter 6, Section 14 of the Parental
Code, where the custodian's right to receive support and help
from the Social Council is recalled, it appears that the
custodian has the primary responsibility.  In view of what has
been said above it cannot be considered compatible with the
object and purpose of the Parental Code's provisions on care of
children or with the tasks, which the Social Services Act has
imposed upon the public social service that the Social Council in
a case like the present one can disapprove of the parents'
judgment as to how they should fulfil their obligations and
exercise their rights as custodians.  The District Council has
accordingly to consider the present application about financial
assistance starting from the fact that one of the parents in the
family takes care of the children at home.

We grant the appeal."

COMPLAINTS

The applicants allege a violation of Art. 8 of the Convention (art 8).
The applicants' application for financial assistance from the District
Council was refused because Mrs.  K. wished to stay at home and
take care of her two small children.  It is the applicants'
submissions that if the right to respect for family life means
anything, it must be applicable in this situation.  The applicants
further submit that their rights to respect for family life have been
interfered with by the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court
and that this interference can find no justification in Art. 8, para.
2 of the Convention (art 8-2).  It is submitted that the true aim of
the interference is to promote equality between the sexes as an
absolute overriding dogma, that this dogma is believed to be justified
simply because it is supposed to lead to a social society via the
creation of a new type of human species, a socialist man, and that the
purpose of the interference indirectly is to collect all small
children in institutions where they will be helplessly exposed to
politically overcharged, extremely selective and unbalanced views of
the world via teaching of the kind illustrated by the pedagogical
package "The World at the Nursery School".  The applicants submit that
such aims are in themselves violations of Art. 17 and 18 of the
Convention (art 17, art. 18).

THE LAW

The applicants have alleged a breach of Art. 8 of the Convention
(art 8) on the ground that they were refused financial support from the
Social Council and that the reason therefor was that Mrs.  K.
wished to stay at home and take care of her two children instead of
placing them in a day home care, as proposed by the Social Council.

Art. 8 of the Convention (art. 8) reads as follows:

"1.     Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family
life, his home and his correspondence.

2.      There shall be no interference by a public authority with the
exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law
and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national
security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for
the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or
morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

The first question to be decided is whether the facts of the case
disclose an interference with the applicants' right to respect for
their family life.  The Commission observes that the issue in the
proceedings in the present case concerned the question whether the
applicants should be granted financial assistance or not.  Under
Swedish law, Section 6 of the Social Services Act, the applicants
were, which is not in dispute in the case, entitled to assistance from
the Social Council because of the low income in the family.  The
Social Council offered the applicants places in the day home care for
the two children in order to allow Mrs.  K. to take up gainful
employment and thereby to increase her income to a sufficient level.
The Supreme Administrative Court resolved that the Social Council had
discharged its obligation under the Social Services Act by offering
these day home places to the applicants.  The applicants however
rejected this offer and wished to have financial assistance instead in
order to allow Mrs.  K. to stay at home.

The Commission observes that the Convention does not as such guarantee
the right to public assistance either in the form of financial support
to maintain a certain standard of living or in the form of supplying
day home care places.  Nor does the right under Art. 8 of the
Convention (art. 8) to respect for family life extend so far as to
impose on States a general obligation to provide for financial
assistance to individuals in order to enable one of two parents to
stay at home to take care of children.

As to the facts of the present case, the Commission notes that the
applicants have decided that one of the parents should stay at home
and take care of the children.  Such a decision involves, for all
couples, a financial burden, since they will have to live on only one
income from gainful employment.  The facts of the present case do not
suggest that the authorities have in any way disrespected the
applicants' decision to take care of their children themselves.  It is
true that under Swedish law the applicants are entitled to public
assistance in order to obtain a reasonable standard of living, and
that they were granted such assistance in the form of day home places
but refused financial assistance, but this cannot be interpreted as a
failure to respect their family life.

The decision of the authorities on this matter must, as the applicants
have noted, be seen in the context of the general development in
society which is characterised by a larger degree of equality between
sexes and an increased number of women seeking employment on the
labour market.  It is true that as a result of the authorities'
decision the applicants had, if they wished to avail themselves of
public assistance, to accept assistance in the form of day home
places.  The applicants may well have regarded this as an indirect
pressure on Mrs.  K. to take up gainful employment. Nevertheless,
this fact cannot raise any issue under Art. 8 (art. 8). Moreover, the
Commission notes that the applicants do not seem to be in such a
situation of need that the solution which they have chosen is not
workable.  Nor is there any other indication that the refusal of
financial assistance in the circumstances of the present case could
involve a lack of respect for the applicants' family life.

Accordingly, the Commission considers that the applicants' complaints
do not disclose any interference with their rights under Art. 8, para.
1 of the Convention (art. 8-1).  It is therefore not necessary to
enter into an examination of the question of a possible justification
under para. 2 of Art. 8 (art. 8-2).

It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded within the
meaning of Art. 27, para. 2 of the Convention (art. 27-2).

For these reasons, the Commission

DECLARES THE APPLICATION INADMISSIBLE

Secretary to the Commission         President of the Commission

      (H.C. KRÜGER)                        (C.A. NØRGAARD)